What started with seven young women at DePauw University has grown into a sisterhood of hundreds of thousands of real, strong women. We’re thrilled to welcome Lily Heddinghaus from the Delta Omega chapter at University of Kentucky as Alpha Chi Omega’s 300,000th initiated member!
As part of our Ask an Alpha Chi blog series, we asked Lily seven questions in honor of our seven Founders. Learn about her experience, and keep reading for more about our new members of fall 2021!
Meet Lily Heddinghaus!
Chapter: Delta Omega (University of Kentucky)
Academic class: First-year
Hometown: Edwardsville, Illinois
Why did you go through recruitment?
I went through recruitment because I am an out-of-state student, and I wanted to find my home away from home. I wanted a solid group of friends, a fun and busy schedule, and new opportunities, and I can confidently say that I have found all of that and more in Alpha Chi Omega.
Why did you choose Alpha Chi Omega?
I chose to join Alpha Chi Omega because each woman I met during recruitment was unique. After one hour in the Alpha Chi house, I had met photographers, dancers, editors of the school fashion magazine, singers, soccer players and leaders of the Panhellenic Council, and they were all members of the same sorority. I wanted my sorority sisters to be individuals, all with their own interests and passions. Alpha Chi was very obviously that group, and I could not wait to join.
What was your favorite part of your new member experience?
My favorite part of my new member experience so far has been meeting my big, Ellen! We have so much fun together going to events, watching The Bachelorette, making late-night chicken nuggets, studying at the house and making so many other memories. She is the big sister I never had, and I am so grateful to have met her.
Aside from Alpha Chi, what else are you involved in on campus or otherwise?
I am involved in the Lewis Honors College, Psychology Scholars Program and Psychology Student Association. I also have a part-time job teaching youth swim lessons. Outside of work and school, I love to do yoga, take care of my plant babies and spend time with my friends.
What has your college experience been like during the pandemic? How have the women of Alpha Chi Omega helped in your experience?
I am happy to say that my college experience has been relatively normal. As long as we are wearing our masks and keeping our distance, we can attend in-person classes, sorority chapter meetings, football games and everything else that comes to mind when you think about college life. I am very grateful to be in a sorority that takes the pandemic precautions seriously because I have an autoimmune condition that leaves me immunocompromised. It is comforting to know that I can always feel safe with my sorority sisters, even in a pandemic.
Tell us about your new member class.
My new member class is such a strong group of women. We all bring something different to the table, but we all share a common set of values that led us to Alpha Chi. We are all caring, fun and eager to be involved. For example, too many new members wanted to play intramural flag football, so they made a second Alpha Chi team for all of the new members. A new member was just elected to our executive board, and many other new members hold chair positions. We are go-getters, and I love that.
What does our tagline, Real. Strong. Women.®, mean to you?
I may be biased, but I think Alpha Chi Omega has the best tagline. Sororities were created by real, strong women, and they are sustained by real, strong women. Alpha Chis are no exception. It is very empowering to know that I am in a sorority that prioritizes women supporting women. From our silly sisterhood events to our serious philanthropic efforts for domestic violence awareness, everything is centered around supporting women. That is incredibly important to me, and I am reminded of that every time I see our tagline.
The Delta Omega 2021 New Member Class
Not only did Alpha Chi Omega recognize Lily, we also honored her entire new member class at the Delta Omega chapter. Chapter president Tatum Mowery shared, “The recruitment process and the new member education program were entirely in person for this member class. One highlight was that they got to do their new member retreat on a beautiful farm owned by an alumna!”
And on November 14 this year, 59 new members were welcomed into the sisterhood at initiation. National President Lynne Herndon recorded a special video message for the Delta Omega women, letting them know their class helped us reach (and surpass!) 300,000 members and wishing them well on their lifelong journey as Alpha Chi Omegas.
The 2021 New Members
So far, Alpha Chi Omega has welcomed more than 5,000 new members for the 2021-22 academic year. Initiations are still ongoing throughout this term, with plenty more coming during deferred recruitments in 2022.
Who are our newest members? We looked to the Marist Mindset List, a cultural touchstone and compilation of key points that reflect the worldview of incoming first-year students, for insight about the class of 2025, which the majority of our fall 2021 new members are a part of. These women are rediscovering the power of poetry (inspired by Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb”), redefining arts and culture through non-fungible tokens (NFTs, the provenance of digital assets bought and sold on the cryptocurrency blockchain), and demanding sustainability in globalized fashion.
Part of Generation Z, our new members are “digital natives” who have never known a world without smartphones. They are more aware of mental health issues than any previous generation. Generation Z is also the most racially diverse American generation, with a passion for social justice.
A defining part of Generation Z and the lives of our fall new members has been the COVID-19 pandemic. Our newest sisters have experienced nearly two years of education in a pandemic. They coordinated two first-day-of-school outfits with masks, took classes on Zoom and participated in virtual or socially distanced graduations. They’ve looked for new ways to find belonging – and that’s led them to the sisterhood of Alpha Chi Omega.
We look forward to seeing how the new members of 2021 live out the Real. Strong. Women. Experience during their time on campus and into the future. And we can’t wait to welcome more sisters home to Alpha Chi Omega on the way to our next milestone – 400,000 initiated sisters!